Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

Production of the Tupolev Tu-334 twinjet is gathering pace as a second production plant opens an assembly line.

RSK started assembly of its first Tu-334 in mid-April at its Voronin MiG plant in Moscow. The fuselage was shipped from the Tavia plant in Taganrog, which had been designated as a Tu-334 production site, but has withdrawn from the programme for financial reasons. The first MiG-built Tu-334 is to be completed and flown by the middle of next year.

Assembly of the 102-seat, Progress D-436T-powered twinjet is being divided equally between MiG and the Aviant plant in Kiev, Ukraine, through a joint venture with the Tupolev design bureau (Flight International, 25-31 August 1999). Aviant, which has produced three airframes and components for a fourth, is assisting MiG to gear up for assembly with the transfer of technical documentation.

The Aviant-produced Tu-334s include the single flying prototype which has been in flight-test since February 1999 at Zhukovsky near Moscow, and the structural test airframe at Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), also in Zhukovsky. A third airframe has been assembled by Aviant and is awaiting installation of engines and systems, while components for the fourth are stored unassembled awaiting final assembly.

The Tu-334 programme has been subject to continuous delays due to lack of funding, and is already several years behind schedule. Tu-334 chief designer Igor Kalygin says that $2 million is allocated in this year's state budget for the support of the programme, a quarter of which has already been received.

RSK has invested $5 million in the programme, which covered debts on existing contracts with the Zhukovsky flight test centre and TsAGI, and the co-operation agreement with Aviant.

A major increase in cash flow for the programme is expected to be finalised soon through the signing of a licence production contract with Iran.

Source: Flight International